Sunday, 15 June 2008


This weekend saw yet another turning point in our training, hence I felt the urge to write the latest posting.

Last Saturday we'd done a fast-paced 15km, the weather was quite warm and we'd had a pretty good run. Sunday's weather was even hotter and we decided on an impromptu trip down to our old stomping ground in Surrey. We jumped on a train to Guildford with the plan to run along the North Downs Way to the town where we used to live before moving to London, a place called Dorking. We estimated it'd be about 22km so a reasonable challenge for a hot, Sunday lunchtime.

I like to think that I have quite a high level of mental toughness but recently the long runs at the weekends (particularly the off-road ones) have been very challenging to the point where it just wasn't fun for long stretches at a time. I think that had begun to play on my mind and I started to question whether I'd be capable of completing 120 miles at altitude in 6 days.

Much of what we do on a daily basis is determined by our attitude and approach - if we're determined to succeed then we tend to achieve our goal. Just between you and me, I confess that last Sunday my mental attitude left something to be desired and I found the run technically very difficult virtually from start to finish. Although the distance is one we've done (and exceeded) many times before this one seemed unusually daunting. Each time we reached something resembling an incline, my heart sank and I resorted to walking up it. Sat was running in his usual fashion - powering his way up - methodical and meditative.

Clearly my tactics weren't a positive contribution to the journey. I didn't welcome Sat's attempts to encourage me or appreciate his recommendation to turn off my music to help me focus. I had to do it my way which impacted both of us as my mood and delaying tactics meant it took hours. Each time we reached a clearing in the trees I yearned to see the spire of Dorking's parish church to indicate we were almost there. Many times I was disappointed. Finally it came into view and we were on familiar ground and bounding our way through Denbies, one of the UKs vineyards (their wine's actually quite nice). Once we reached Denbies we knew the route was all downhill and we both found some extra energy to sprint the last 1km or so.

I wasn't pleased with my performance that day but it did give me the opportunity to learn an important lesson. We might have done lots of training to do the distance, but hillwork had now become a priority. I made a commitment to get on the treadmill during the week and start practising. This we duly did and now combine speedwork and hillwork in our weekly schedule.

Maybe it's psychological as I doubt we'd make such progress in a few days but I actually felt strong during training this week and was relishing the repeat run from Guildford to Camberley on Saturday. Mentally I was a million miles from where I'd been the week before. We knew the route as we'd done it about 3 weeks ago; about 30km - with the first 20km being the most challenging from a technical perspective. Our reward at the end of this run was courtesy of my brother-in-law, Satpal, and his wife, Parm, who were hosting their annual BBQ. So this was a great incentive to get there as quickly as possible.

Conditions were great - quite warm but with a good breeze to keep us cool. Sat had bought a couple of walking poles mid-week to take with us as well - we'd seen quite a few people had used these during last year's TransRockies Run and thought we should perhaps get used to them as well so they were strapped to Sat's rucksack for easy access.

I won't bore you with all the details of the run. Suffice it to say that I had probably the best run ever!!! I was so energised and felt in really good shape. We set off and before long the usual 50 yards had opened up with Sat in front. The gap never widens but it seemed to be a comfortable distance between us. I didn't listen to my iPod as I was focusing on my mantras and affirmations to power me through and they worked a treat. The first one was simply "I'm stronger" for the first 20km. I then moved onto a Tony Robbins classic for the rest of the way "All I need is within me now" - you emphasise a different word with each repetition. It really worked. (And we didn't even use the poles - not this time anyway). The kms just seemed to tick away and once we'd got past the halfway point I'd already stopped counting.

By the time we'd got to Camberley I was on a high. We had run the whole way. I'd given it everything and was so pleased with the result. Even better was to know we'd beaten the time it took to get there by 35 minutes!

We definitely felt we'd earned our Mojito Royals (champagne cocktail), BBQ food and desserts which we tucked into with relish over the course of the evening. The rest of the family and some of Sat & Parm's friends came over as well, culminating in the, now traditional, Wii tournament which always causes plenty of banter and healthy competition!

Another memorable weekend for us in so many ways. Lots of great memories and another notch on the training calendar of success.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that you can complain about any particular situation or moan about what you haven't got in your life and find excuses to reinforce it or you can step up and take responsibility and choose to do something about it. We always have choices. Often we need to venture outside of our comfort zone to get there but without a doubt, the reward is always worth it. It really is all in the mind!

I'll leave you with this final thought...hell would be to meet the person I could have been. Carpe diem!



Blogger Sunshine Girl said...

Way to go Jo, now get out there and find some hills do go UP and DOWN....


18 June 2008 at 15:31  
Blogger Georgie B said...

Jo... there isn't a person that is training for this event that isn't going through ups and downs. Just keeping doing the miles and thus, improve your physiology. The worst that can happen is that you walk versus run in one of the prettiest places in the USA in August.

Glad to hear about your subsequent great run.... your body is obviously capable of great things.... kick in a little adrenaline and you'll do great.

I also noted sunshine girl pointed out the value of training running DOWN hills... great advice, my quadriceps cringe just thinking about how those downhills will feel about the 4th day of the race.

Cheers !

22 June 2008 at 00:45  

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